Summary: Compares the firefighters mayday situation, to our spiritual lives; identifying the need to call the spiritual mayday.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Phl 4:6)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6) (NIV)
There is no situation more anxious for a firefighter, than for problems to occur inside a fire building (burning structure). Potential problems that may occur include falls, collapse, becoming lost, trapped, or disoriented, becoming stuck, and loss of air, or malfunction of breathing apparatus.
When these situations occur, we are trained to call a Mayday!
The word “mayday” is French in origin. The original being, “m’aide”, which means “help me”. The root of this word being similar to our word “aid”, is “aider” meaning “to help”.
As a fire department, it is of utmost importance that we train for the mayday situation. One of the ways we do this is by constructing a training course made of props that simulate mayday situations. The ‘blacked out’ (blindfolded) firefighter starts at the beginning, following a hose line on his hands and knees. The first situation he comes to is to simulate a fall through the roof or floor (this is accomplished by using a ledge/lever arrangement that tips the firefighter into a safe area). After following the proper mayday procedures the firefighter then advances through the training course. Back on the hoseline the next situation is a building collapse (two personnel pin down the firefighter with pallets or a section of fence). The firefighter calls the mayday, then advances. An entanglement prop is the next hurdle to overcome. As the firefighter follows the hoseline, crawling through the maze his air pack/bottle becomes entangled on wire or rope. After trying to, unsuccessfully, free himself, the mayday is called. The final prop is to simulate being lost or disoriented. As the firefighter makes his way to the dead-end of the maze a door is closed behind him. Now, when he turns to go back the way he came, there is no opening he is boxed in. His only option is to call the mayday.
Through out the obstacle course the firefighter has encountered (and properly responded to) the four mayday parameters:
Fall - no matter what through
Collapse - having something collapse on the firefighter
Lost/Trapped - becoming disoriented, not knowing where to go
Stuck - becoming entangled
There is a proper way to call the mayday. This method is used over and over and over again throughout the training process, so that it becomes second nature. If the need arrises to call the mayday, the process can be accomplished more smoothly as a learned habit.
After the firefighter realizes that he is in a mayday situation, he must conduct the proper actions to ensure that his mayday is realized. The first step is to press the EIB button on his radio. The “emergency identifier button” sends out an emergency signal. When this button is pressed it cuts off all radio communications except for the downed firefighters. This gives radio silence on the fire scene allowing the endangered firefighter only, to transmit his message. After the EIB has been activated, the firefighter must broadcast his message, starting with , “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”. After the initial “mayday” call the firefighter must then provide information for his rescuers. The information needed is in the form of the acrostic LUNAR.